Forgiveness Is ...
Scheduled for December 14
professional Christian counselor once shared this definition of forgiveness:
“Forgiveness is one person’s willingness to bear the consequences of another
said Miss Hornbuckle (my junior high school English teacher, and her looks and
manner well fit the name), are action words. The verb in that sentence is
“bear.” To bear is to carry a burden, in this instance for someone else. The
physical picture is that of one person carrying a load for someone else.
are all sorts of circumstances in which we bear someone else’s burden.
Sometimes we do it purely for love -- at least, I assume there are still books
to carry and pretty girls to carry them for. Sometimes out of a brotherly love
known as team spirit -- we cover for one of our teammates, bearing his or her
workload for a while. Sometimes we do it out of a sense of obligation,
grumbling all the way. Sometimes it may even be compelled. The greatest joy
lies, no doubt, in doing it for love.
may do it for love, but it also has a purpose. Sometimes it’s just to show
that love (carrying the books), but occasionally it’s because of injury. If
the one you love has been injured, even ordinary burdens can become too much to
bear. If she’s on crutches, he’s carrying the skis.
did that for us at Calvary. Just when we were so wounded that we could not
bear the burden of our sins, He came. He took that burden from us, and bore it
for us. In this we have forgiveness, for God bore the burden we could not. He
is willing to bear the consequences of my sin -- all the way to the Cross.
asks us in Communion to remember this sacrifice, this bearing of our burdens.
May I ask you to remember not only the sacrifice but the way in which it was
made? Jesus did not forgive us in word only, saying “I forgive you -- but you
still have to pay.” He did not forgive grudgingly, but joyfully. He did so in
then, how often our forgiveness falls short. How often we forgive in word
only, saying (with an exasperated sigh), “I forgive you -- but if it ever
happens again, you can bet I won’t forget this.” How often we forgive only
under the compulsion of circumstance, doing it grudgingly. Consider our Lord’s
example on the Cross, and ask yourself, “Do I forgive like that?”
is our supreme example. He forgave us at the greatest cost any human could pay
-- his life. He did so willingly and completely. As you remember that
sacrifice, examine yourself and see: Do I “go and do likewise?”